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Arrowhead Report: Baldwin Remains Out With Thumb Injury

Posted Sep 23, 2011

Friday's news and notes from One Arrowhead Drive

Despite showing signs of progress during practices this week, Chiefs first-round draft pick Jonathan Baldwin will miss his third-straight game because of a lingering thumb injury. Baldwin did not participate in the Chiefs Friday afternoon practice and was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game late in the afternoon.

Baldwin practiced twice this week (Wednesday and Thursday) in a limited capacity.

Chiefs Injury Report

WR Jonathan Baldwin – OUT (Thumb)

DE Wallace Gilberry – QUESTIONABLE (Neck)

OLB Tamba Hali – PROBABLE (Ankle)

San Diego has a load of players nursing various ailments. An interesting note from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune: In four years under Norv Turner, no Chargers player listed as “doubtful” has played in a regular season game.

Chargers Injury Report

DE Luis Castillo - OUT (Tibia)

WR Malcom Floyd - DOUBTFUL (Groin)

DE Corey Liuget - DOUBTFUL (Ankle)

S Bob Sanders - DOUBTFUL (Knee)

TE Antonio Gates - QUESTIONABLE (Foot)

RB Mike Tolbert - PROBABLE (Calf)

CB Quentin Jammer – PROBABLE (Illness)

WR Vincent Jackson - PROBABLE (Abdomen)

No Wholesale Changes Defensively

After two weeks of defensive struggles, Romeo Crennel isn’t ready to throw the Chiefs defensive scheme away completely.

Personnel changes have occurred due to the loss of Eric Berry, but the defense as a whole is largely the same group of players that made drastic improvements in most every major statistical category last season.

“Generally, what you do is you try to do better at what you’re doing because to change completely, there’s a learning curve that goes along with change,” Crennel said. “It might help you and it might not help you. I think your best chance is to work on your foundation and if you can identify something that you think is definitely hurting you, then you make a change at that point or you change a technique or something there.

“But, wholesale change, I don’t know that wholesale change is the answer.”

Currently, the Chiefs are focusing on re-gaining the ability to force stops deep inside their own territory. Opponents have scored 55 points this season on drives beginning in Kansas City territory.

During last season’s AFC Wes championship run, the defense was able to force field goals, instead of allowing touchdowns, a number of times following sudden change.

“Of the six scores we gave up last week, three of them were at the 1-yard line after the guys had battled, so they were short plays,” Crennel said. “Even though you give them up, that’s still a sign that you’re fighting and you’re not giving up 50-yard touchdowns. We’ve got to get to the point where we can make a play and force field goal attempts. That’s the thing that we have to do.”

Battle Readying For Carries

In five years with the Chiefs, Jackie Battle’s area of expertise has come on special teams. A core four special teams performer once again in 2011, that part of Battle’s game isn’t changing.

But with the season-ending knee injury to Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs are entering a true running back by committee environment. Le’ron McClain still the only fullback on the roster and Battle could be in line to gain a handful of opportunities in Kansas City’s rushing mix.

“I think that we’ve been kind of a running back by committee team,” head coach Todd Haley said. “I would say that would probably stay in that mode. The good thing is we’ve got a number of guys that can carry the football and Jackie is one of them. Jackie is one of our top special teamers and he’ll still be playing a big role there.”

“Losing Jamaal is a big thing,” added Battle. “One of us can’t fill Jamaal’s shoes. It’s going to take all of us and that’s what we’re going to try and do.

“I’m ready to step in where needed. With Coach Mo (Carthon) it’s kind of a feel thing for who plays. So, if he feels confident in me to get in then I’m going to do what I can.”

Battle has experience at fullback, playing the position briefly during the 2009 season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Once Battle was placed on injured reserve the Chiefs acquired free agent Tim Castille to play a similar role.

Though he’s appeared in 35 games with the Chiefs, Battle has logged an average of only 1.3 rushing attempts per game. Nearly half of those carries (20) came last season as a short-yardage running back.

While Battle isn’t a likely candidate to shoulder the brunt of the rushing load going forward, he’s certainly a bigger part of the Chiefs offense then he was a week ago.

“We’ve had some tough hits and we’re still trying to form an identity, but I think our identity still wants to be a team that runs the football first and foremost,” Battle said.

Wide Receiver Usage

Jeremy Horne was somewhat of a surprise call-up from the practice squad earlier this week when Charles was officially placed on injured reserve. Horne’s addition gave the Chiefs seven wide receivers on the active roster, not including Dexter McCluster.

That total is the most wide receivers Kansas City has rostered since Haley became head coach in 2009.

The team is still short at several positions, including tight end and inside linebacker, but McCluster’s use as a running back and Baldwin’s continued absence limits Kansas City’s receiving options – particularly with the loss of pass-catching tight end Tony Moeaki.

Horne’s addition gives the Chiefs six receivers to choose from this Sunday, outside of McCluster and Baldwin.Iit will be interesting to see which mix is active on gameday.

Horne has shown the ability to stretch the field in preseason games and is also able to contribute on special teams.

Is Horne set to make his 2011 debut on Sunday? It’s a possibility.

In Week One, there were no healthy inactives at the wide receiver position. Last week, Keary Colbert was a healthy scratch in Detroit.

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